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EA Acquires UK Angry Birds Publisher Chillingo

Electronic Arts confirmed today that it purchased popular mobile publisher Chillingo for an undisclosed sum. [UPDATE: EA and Rovio clarify that the purchase doesn't include rights to any IP, including Angry Birds.]
Electronic Arts confirmed today that it purchased Chillingo, the Cheshire, UK-based mobile game publisher of hit iPhone titles Angry Birds and Cut the Rope, for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition, confirmed to the L.A. Times' Company Town blog, marks EA's latest acquisition aimed at getting the publisher a better foothold in non-packaged markets such as online social games and mobile. While EA did not confirm the price of the transaction, the report cited "sources close to the deal" that pegged the amount at below $20 million in cash. "By acquiring Chillingo, EA Mobile is increasing its market leadership on the Apple Platform as well as reaffirming its position as the world’s leading wireless entertainment publisher," said EA in a statement. "This acquisition will combine Chillingo’s expertise in cultivating the ideas of independent developers with EA’s global mobile publishing reach." Late last year, Electronic Arts bought social game developer Playfish (Pet Society) for $400 million, including $100 million performance-based earnouts. That acquisition came as EA said it would lay off 1,500 workers by April this year, a move that signified EA's growing emphasis on emerging online business models. Finland's Rovio is the developer of Angry Birds, an App Store hit released in late 2009 that reportedly sold 6.5 million units by August this year on Apple's storefront. Separately of Chillingo, Rovio recently released the game for free on Android, supported by ads, and was downloaded another 2 million times in about two days. This month, Chillingo released developer ZeptoLab's iOS puzzler Cut the Rope, which the publisher said sold 1 million units in its first 10 days on the App Store. Angry Birds and Cut the Rope currently sell for 99 cents on the App Store for iPod Touch and iPhone, and respectively are priced at $4.99 and $1.99 for the iPad versions. Neither ZeptoLab or Rovio were part of the acquisition, according to the report. [UPDATE: An EA spokesperson confirmed to Gamasutra that the purchase of Chillingo does not include rights to the IP for Chillingo-published games, which stays with those games' developers. Angry Birds developer Rovio Mobile also clarified to TechCrunch that they have no plans to use Chillingo for future releases in the Angry Birds franchise.]

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